Working in homecare is an unloved, undervalued profession that people think is just about menial tasks, new research has revealed.
It rocks me to the core that some people think that's what working in care is like and little wonder that people are put off it as a career choice.
I love my job as a homecarer and I love working with older people. If I hold a mirror up to the reality of any working day, that's simply nothing like a picture of what I do. I meet fascinating people with amazing life stories who just need a helping hand each day or a few times a week to help them stay living in their own homes as long as possible.
According to the new research this week, two thirds of British adults say they had not and would never consider working in the homecare sector.
That simply stuns me.
The same research said that 53% of people agreed that homecare is an essential role in today's society.
So we have a dichotomy here it seems.
Homecare will help people to stay living in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes surrounded by a lifetime of memories as long as possible.
But no-one wants to do the job it seems and 43% of people think homecare involves doing unpleasant and menial tasks.
Care is anything but menial work - it's the most meaningful work. And there are thousands of jobs in care that no one wants to do based on unfounded fears it seems. That's a crying shame and something must be done to combat those views.
So in my own bid to help set the record straight - here are my top 5 home truths that reflect my career journey and my working days in homecare.
1. Let's get personal. Yes the job involves doing some personal care like bathing and dressing. I can understand that at first new carers might feel a little daunted by doing personal care. But when you've got to know a client over a period of time, you make a bond and because of that relationship, if there comes a time where that client needs help with personal care - it becomes a natural part of the role. When you've helped them get up, get clean and get ready for the day and they smile at you and say 'thank you so much dear' - well that makes any awkwardness or embarrassment that you might have felt once upon a time pale into insignificance.
2. See lives not menial tasks. I went shopping for a new jumper for one of my older ladies, she wanted to look nice for her husband who said she always looks beautiful in bright things. That's not menial that's a small shopping trip that made a big difference.
3. Appetite for life. Nutrition is vital for older people. It helps them stay healthy, hydrated and most importantly out of hospital. I have a 95-year-old lady who loves eating scallops and buttered spinach. We cook that together as our 'signature dish' and she savours every bite. That's not unpleasant work nor a menial task.
4. Family and friends. When you start to connect with your clients and that all-important trust starts to build up, it's like having an extended family or a solid friendship. That's the basis of the relationship-led care we give. It's not just personal care it's companionship too, so we really get to know each other. I wake up each day looking forward to spending time with my clients. I miss them on the days they don't have visits. And when we are together, there is always so much laughter because of the bonds we have built. Laughter brings joy to both parties and that's certainly not menial either.
5. Time to care. I spend at least one hour at my care visits. That's time to give quality, dignified homecare and it means there's always time to talk about the things they are interested in, that builds companionship and counters loneliness. From politics to religion or the latest storyline in a favourite soap on the telly... that's the rich and varied tapestries of life. There are 5,000 homecare jobs at Home Instead Senior Care this year and I hope that my top 5 home truths help convince people to look at working in homecare from a new perspective.